Saleroom Life

by Sheffield Auction Gallery

Month: December 2015

Wade Whimsies

Wade Whimsies are arguably the most popular collectable produced by George Wade Pottery, ironic since in the 1960s many were literally given away. They were conceived as a way to get the factory back on its feet after the wartime restrictions, allowing only undecorated essential pottery production, were lifted.

The first whimsies were made in 1953 and a total of 109 were made until production ceased in the 1980s. The early models were made in sets of five between 1953 and 1959 with ten different sets being produced. The first set ever made was English Animals including a leaping fawn, a horse, a spaniel with a ball, a poodle and a squirrel. Next came another set of English Animals, this time comprising a bull, a lamb, a kitten, a hare and a dachshund, followed by English Country Animals, African Jungle Animals, Horses in a set of just four, Polar Animals, Pedigree Dogs, Zoo Animals, North American Animals and finally Farm Animals.

In the 1960s, wade whimsies were no longer sold in sets but instead produced as ‘giveaways’ for many popular retail brands such as Red Rose Tea and a number of different cracker brands. They became a popular tradition at the Christmas dinner table. Their popularity saw Wade begin producing sets for sale again in 1971, with a total of 12 sets made.

There are many variations in the whimsies largely due to the length and volume of production; moulds would get damaged or worn so were replaced regularly. There is, however, one key distinguishing feature on all authentic whimsies which is a fine set of parallel moulded ridges on their bases. This feature appears on all but the very first set of whimsies.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Cyril Walters

As the cameras rolled this summer at RAF Coningsby for the Antiques Roadshow a quintet of ventriloquist dolls made the leap from stage to screen for the first and who knows, perhaps not the last time. The dolls featured on the show, named Rusty, Jimmy, Whinnie, Toby and Pocket, all belonged to Sheffield based Ventriloquist and Magician Cyril Walter Hogg. Known on stage as Cyril Walters his career spanned an incredible 50 years.

Born in Walkley, Sheffield in 1923 Cyril bought Jimmy, his first doll, when he was only 11 years old.The inspiration came from a theatre visit with his father and by 1936 Cyril and Jimmy were picking up local bookings, with one of his earliest shows being in Penistone, South Yorkshire.

The most famous partner was Rusty and he arrived in the 1940’s then went off to war with Cyril to entertain the troops alongside Cyril’s work as an army driver.

After the war Cyril’s reputation began to grow and a steady stream of work came along from the vibrant northern clubs scene, theatres and seaside pier shows. Gradually, as the world changed and the provisional clubs and theatres began to close Cyril changed his act, concentrating more on
children’s entertainment and the inclusion of a Punch and Judy show.

Cyril stopped working at the age of 80 and following the sad news of his death in 2015, here at the Sheffield Auction Gallery we have been kindly given instructions to sell the ventriloquist dolls, props, tricks and Punch and Judy. Perhaps to inspire the next generation of entertainers.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Doulton Figurines

Doulton may have produced figurines from the mid-19th century but it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that the figures so popular with collectors today were made. In 1913 one of Doulton’s modellers, Charles Noke, who was recruited from Royal Worcester, began to design a new range of figurines. They were launched that same year when King George and Queen Mary toured the Burselm factory. It is even documented that the Queen commented on one of the figures of a little boy saying “Isn’t he a darling!” and subsequently the figure was named ‘Darling’. This first range was released complete with a new model numbering system; the HN numbering system invented by Harry Nixon, head of figure painting at the time. The system was able to distinguish different colours and sizes within the same designs and is still in use today.

SOLD for £4600 at Sheffield Auction Gallery

SOLD for £4600 at Sheffield Auction Gallery

Production of the figurines thrived under the guidance of Noke and another key designer, Leslie Harradine. He was one of the main modellers for Doulton, his first figurine was released in 1920 and he went on to work for Doulton for thirty years producing at least one new design every month, sometimes two or three. The popularity of his figures saw the number of artists in the painting department increase. He is particularly well known for his stylish ladies who had their heyday in the 1930s, although he also liked studies of Dickens’ characters. One of his most popular designs, the ‘Top o’ the Hill’ figure, featuring a windswept lady was first made in 1937 and is still being produced today. Due to his lasting legacy at Doulton, some enthusiasts will focus just on his figurines for their collections.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Christmas Tree Pins

Christmas tree pins are exactly as they sound; brooches in the shape of Christmas trees. They have been around since the 1940s but their range and popularity increased during the 1950s as American mothers with sons fighting in the Korean War wore them and sent them as a gesture of Christmas cheer and support.

Christmas tree pins were generally made in the festive colours of red and green although others like the blues and icy whites of a Christmas snow scene were also used. They were beautiful with intricate and often exquisite designs featuring crystal rhinestones, beads and enamelling. They were made by most costume jewellery designers of the time with Eisenberg, Stanley Hagler, Cristobal and Trifari being names to note.

Eisenberg was an American clothing company. Originally pins were made as accessories sold with their dresses but popularity saw they quickly sold in their own right. Eisenberg tended to use white enamel or gilt metal casting with simplistic forms featuring coloured rhinestones. Early pieces are signed with Eisenberg Original or simply Eisenberg, after 1945 they were marked Eisenberg Ice and towards the 1960s many were not signed or marked at all which can make them difficult to date.

Stanley Hagler was one of the most renowned costume jewellery designers of the 20th century, he originally worked for Miriam Gaskell before setting up his own business in 1950. Stanley Hagler pins are often considered some of the most intricate and innovative of the time, he was famous particularly for his new techniques using hand blown glass; glass beads feature heavily in his designs.

Christmas tree pins are still made today and there is a strong collectors market for both vintage and modern examples.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Dean’s Rag Book Company

Dean’s Rag Book Company made the first cloth books for babies; a revolutionary idea to sell indestructible, washable books for children which was a huge success.

Dean and Son’s had been printing books for many years but at the turn of the 20th century two of the directors decided to take a risk and follow the example of America and Germany trying to take advantage of the growth of the ‘toy’ market. They started in 1902 by producing cotton sheets decorated with brightly coloured designs of dolls and animals. This, however, quickly developed into an experiment to make a cloth book with pictures printed on calico and tied with a ribbon. The experiment was a triumph and in 1903 Dean’s Rag Book Company was formed by Henry Samuel Dean.

The first book produced was Wells Kidd’s ‘The Life of a Bold A B on the ship in the Rolling C’, it was single print colour with two colour cover. The early books were expensive to produce and costly for parents to buy but very quickly the demand grew increasing the print runs and subsequently enabling the whole process to be done more economically so Dean’s Rag Books were made affordable to all parents. The colour palette of the books also increased as the cost was reduced and later books were in full colour.

The ‘golden age’ of Dean’s is described as 1903 until the 1930s with many popular artists of the time designing for their rag books including Charles K Cook, F. M. Barton and Stanley Berkeley and books produced in different languages for export including French, German and the most rare, Russian.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

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